As families lose their sources of income and home environments are turned upside down due to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, children find themselves more vulnerable to poverty and likely to be deprived of their basic needs. For the poorest families, including those who do not have access to social protection, the situation is dire. Children suffer poverty differently from adults and they are more likely to experience lifelong consequences from it.  Malnutrition can last a lifetime, having long-term consequences on children’s physical, social and emotional development. And losses in learning at a young age can result in children falling behind in school, finding it difficult to ever catch up. Without access to health care, children could miss out on vaccines that could be life-saving in later years and the treatment necessary to grow up healthy and thrive. In addition, children are placed at greater risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation and abuse.

Available data on the impact of unemployment and the loss of parents’ income due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not disaggregated by age and therefore do not reflect the realities faced by children around the world. In response to this gap, Save the Children and UNICEF collaborated to estimate how many children live in monetary poor households as well as how many more are likely to be pushed into this situation due to the impact of the pandemic. The analysis projects the likely change in the number of children in monetary poor families due to COVID-19, under different scenarios based on likely reductions of per capita income and changes in income distribution.

The global socioeconomic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could push 142 million more children into monetary poor households by the end of the year, according to projections as of November 2020. The total number of children living in poor households globally could reach just over 725 million in the absence of any mitigating policies. Nearly two-thirds of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.